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Professor Sandy Wilkinson


Sandy Wilkinson

School of History
01 716 8151
University College Dublin, School of History, Newman Building Belfield Dublin 4


I am an historian of early-modern Europe, with a particular focus on the history of the book. At present, I am working on Ornamento, a project which applies artificial neural networks, deep learning and cutting-edge image matching technologies to early printed books. Woodcut and engraved art in early print continues to be a hugely neglected area of investigation, largely because there are no efficient means for scholars to explore it. The ultimate objective of Ornamento is to provide a centralised repository of ornamentation and illustration used in pre-Industrial European print. It will take advantage of the vast and increasing numbers of digitised books being created globally, and demonstrate new and innovative ways in which this corpus can be used. The pilot which launched in August 2018 is based on 10,000 Spanish and Portuguese books, from which 230,000 pages have been indexed and can be queried using bibliographic and other metadata, as well as through image-matching technology. I was the Principal Investigator of Iberian Books (2007-2019) funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project created an online database of printing in Spain, Portugal and the New World before 1701 (around 131,000 items), as well as a census of over two thirds of a million surviving copies. A new version of the interface, with enhanced searching capabilities was made available in August 2018 at as well as at I studied Modern History (MA Hons, First Class, 1997) and then Reformation Studies (MLitt, Distinction, 1998) at the University of St Andrews. My doctoral work, supervised by Professor Andrew Pettegree, looked at the communications culture of sixteenth-century France, and in particular at the way the figure of Mary Queen of Scots was exploited by the Catholic League during the Wars of Religion. From 2001-2006, I was Project Manager of the AHRC-funded French Vernacular Book Project, an initiative that would ultimately evolve into the USTC. In 2006, I moved to Ireland and have taught in the School of History here since. I coordinate a first-year survey module on Modern Europe, a third-year module entitled Weoponising the Word, and a graduate historiographical module on Renaissance Europe. From 2011-2014, I was the Vice-Principal/Director of the Graduate School in the UCD College of Arts & Celtic Studies. From 2012-2015, I served as Secretary of the Society for the Study of French History. From 2007 to 2017, I was the Director of the UCD Centre for the History of the Media. I currently sit on the executive committee of the UCD Institute of Criminology, as well as serving on the University's Assessment Appeals and Quality committees. I chair the editorial board for Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media (30 titles to date), and I also sit on the board of St Andrews Studies in French History and Culture. I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2004.


  • MA
    University of St Andrews
  • M Litt
    University of St Andrews
  • PhD
    University of St Andrews